Had to say goodbye to our kitty Willis today. This was Willis in younger and happier days, when he enjoyed curling up in the sink. He just turned 16 last week. We lost him to a bladder infection, let him go today when he wasn’t eating or drinking any longer. He last had an infection in 2005, and we almost lost him then. Weren’t so lucky this time.
Thanks for 16 great years, little kitty, and enjoy the bird hunting in kitty heaven.
“The Journey”, Kathy Ostman-Magnusen
“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
- Mary Oliver
The Journey, 1986
“Your journey never ends. Life has a way of changing things in incredible ways.” — Alexander Volkov
The ultimate truth of the journey and its final rewards are still for each of us to face alone.
– Deng Ming-Dao
I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.
– Lillian Smith
The fact is there is no escape from the pain of losing what we love and inevitably become attached to. No escape from the fear, confusion, anger and broken heartedness that comes with the territory of human relationship or simply being Life in the form of a human body. There is no escape from the fall, no escape from the hard landing and no escape from that dark bottom of the well where we find ourselves at these times. When the outcomes of these encounters are painful or even “disastrous”, is it possible to see them not as failures but rather potential dharma gates of deeper compassion, understanding, forgiveness and loving kindness? Is it possible to really meet these times, no matter how agonizing, with an open heart? To meet even the heart that shrinks in pain and fear with gentle attention even when it seems that every fiber in our body and mind want to just get away? This is the heart of our practice and unless we want some artificial, dualistic, imaginary practice we must learn to work with them as such; facing all of this on and off the cushion and meeting these moments that at some times seem to stretch on endlessly with an awareness that allows whatever is there to simply be there. If there is sadness, be there with it as long as it needs your presence. The same with fear, worry, anger, rage, feelings of rejection and failure, broken heartedness and loneliness. This is not about thinking our way out, but rather about learning our way into these seemingly awful times through the power of attention. This is a fierce practice that requires a fiercely loving heart; a loving heart that can hold and contain even the heart that’s broken.
How is it for you when … you figuratively find yourself at the bottom of the pit of your agonizing life situation and you are alone? You are destitute. You are deeply grieved and grieving. At these moments even though we may have people who care for us, we are cut off, unreachable, solitary and destitute. And how can it be otherwise? It can be helpful to talk with friends, a therapist or teacher, but can anyone really reach us when we have lost a child, a partner, a loved one, received a devastating medical diagnosis? When we find that our mind or body is not the immortal and invulnerable something we had thought it was? When we suddenly realize that we are “old”? When we realize that we may not see old age? May not see our children grow up? When the self-image that we hold onto so tightly and identify with so completely or the future we envisage and so desperately hope for is completely shattered or called deeply into question? We want so desperately to be comforted. We want so desperately to be held in a way that just makes it go away; makes it somehow all ok, as though simply because it is painful and frightening it is not ok. And in a certain way it really is not ok. How could anything that so completely throws us down the well be ok? Life makes no mistakes and at some point if we are to truly be alive and free regardless of our life situation, we simply must learn to live beyond the limited images and hopes to which we so desperately cling. As Joko Beck once said, “The one thing in life we can truly count on is Life being exactly how it is.” For some losses, disappointments, betrayals, devastating life changes there is nothing that will make the pain go away and nothing that will mend the rupture that we find ourselves to in fact be. We are that pain, and trying to get rid of it creates a conflict in the mind between what is and what should be that only makes the fire burn more searingly.
The key to working with our “having tumbled down condition” is to see that even at the moment of impact things have changed already and that this moment is not what we think it is. In fact, it is not what we “think” at all! Thinking is always “old”; just a bit behind the curve of life, if you will. Have you looked closely enough, deeply enough? Have you let your situation speak to you its’ complete truth without your assumptions, presuppositions and images of how it should or could be? How will you know if and when this situation and what it stirs up is finished with you, rather than when you are finished with it? Can you see that thinking about whatever is present in your life right now is quite different from what is actually here right now? Have you really become so completely attentive that there is no “you” there observing and hence no separation at all? Are you willing to not feel better too quickly and to follow this pain right down to its roots? This is demanding and austere practice, but if you have not done it then there is more work to do; if you have done it, there is probably still more work to do. And there is no one, absolutely no one, who can do it but you. It is important to have companions on the Way and someone who can encourage you onward with the confidence of having walked this Way before, but only you can do the work of your life. To go so completely into this moment that “you” disappear: What is that? Then, who are you? Are you the one who suffers, or are you the One who Knows?
Gather experiences. Treat them as precious jewels.
The purpose of the journey is not to guard and restrain yourself. The purpose is to learn. You do not teach and lead your soul. Your soul leads and teaches you. It takes you wading across streams, strolling through meadows, deep into valleys, and high onto mountaintops. It takes you down winding, narrow roads and long fast-moving four-lane highways. It takes you into tiny cafes, bustling cities, and out-of-the-way hostels where people break bread and tell what they have learned.
Let yourself have all your experiences. Don’t limit or judge yourself or the adventure you have had. All were necessary, all were important, all have helped shape and form you. Your heart will lead you, guide you where you are to go. Don’t worry about getting lost or off track. Don’t worry about being wrong, or in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Gather experiences. Go through them. Select the gems from each. Listen while others tell their stories, their adventures, and show you their jewels, the truths that they have learned. Then, when you break bread and sip soup with others, open your heart and joyfully share what has happened to you along the way.
Having experiences is called living.
Sharing experiences is called loving.
Let yourself enjoy both.
Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart
Changing Place, Changing Time, Changing Thoughts, Changing Future
Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice, Italy via Studio G
Our miracles and life’s magic do not appear when we’re restless and frantic. The miracles and magic happen when we’re still, quiet, calm and trusting.
Each of us have favorite items and places that help to calm and quiet us.
What stills our mind? A walk in the park, a special place in the city, a quiet room? An old chenille robe? A rock, a cross, a picture, a lit candle?
Use these places and things to find that place of stillness in yourself.
Find the power in stillness. It’s a power that comes gently like the morning sunrise or the evening stars.
Take time each day to seek out stillness, to find that sacred spot.
Let your mind and soul be at ease.
Don’t grasp and grab for the magic and miracles.
When you reside in that place of stillness, the joy, miracles, and magic you’re seeking will find you.
Studio G, Garden Design & Landscape Design Inspiration » Garden Destinations: The Peggy Guggenheim Museum Venice, ItalyJanuary 10th, 2011
Peggy Guggenheim is famed for her collection of 20th century art and for discovering the likes of Jackson Pollock among other famed modern artists.
“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer” — Albert Camus
“Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the
landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.
- Andrew Wyeth
Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.
– Charles G. Stater
“One kind word can warm three winter months.”
– Japanese Proverb
“In the summer I have this friend who I am closest to, and sometimes, in the winter, I long to call her up and say, come here and live with me, in this cold place. But we are summer friends. There is a rule it seems, that summer friends don’t get together in the wintertime. Now, sitting here, waiting for her, I realize that I have never seen her in a winter coat, and for some reason that makes me sadder than anything else in the world.” — Jacqueline Woodson
Now the seasons are closing their files
on each of us, the heavy drawers
full of certificates rolling back
into the tree trunks, a few old papers
flocking away. Someone we loved
has fallen from our thoughts,
making a little, glittering splash
like a bicycle pushed by a breeze.
Otherwise, not much has happened;
we fell in love again, finding
that one red feather on the wind.
– Ted Kooser, “Year’s End”
“I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.”
- Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing
Enjoy the lunar eclipse tonight as the Solstice begins, if you are fortunate to have clear skies. We’ll have clouds and rain here, so I’ll miss seeing it tonight.
Well, going to where I grew up, at least. I’m off to Scottsdale, Arizona today to visit family and friends. My mom left me a timeshare there so I am headed there this week.
And I just got the book, “Journey from the Heart” from paperbackswap.com. This is the post for today:
You’re Almost Home
I only had a few hundred miles to go, but the stretch ahead seemed endless. I was tired and near the end of this adventure. I remembered the meditative words of a friend, words that had helped me several years ago, words that helped me again now.
“The life force is a force within you. You have the power to fire it, stoke it, expand its energy throughout your body. Don’t clench up, tighten up. That limits the life force within you. Stop cramping your muscles and telling yourself you can’t. If you say it long and loud enough, you’ll begin to believe it. Relax. Relax your arms, your legs, your neck, your body. You’ve come so far. Look back at all the miles you’ve traveled. What lies ahead is a small portion, such a small portion of fear.”
“Breathe deeply. When you become afraid or tired, your breathing becomes shallow. That inhibits the fire. It keeps the life force from reaching your muscles, your vital organs, your brain. Breathe deeply. Stoke the fire within.”
“Take a moment now to picture the core of light within you. See it in your solar plexus just inches below your navel. Picture it as a glowing coal, a candle, a flame. With each breath you take, picture the flame getting stronger, glowing more brightly, until you feel the vital life force begin to surge through you.”
“Feel yourself being filled with healing, life-giving energy with each breath you take. Feel the flame burn more brightly within you. Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. Feel your power spread through your body. Feel the power of the universe come in through your breath. Feel the power connect with and flame the burning coal of energy that is within you.”
“You’ve come so far. You’ve almost mastered that lesson, accomplished that task, unveiled that insight, the one you’ve been struggling with. Of course you’re tired. You’ve been working hard. Take a moment now to light the fire within you. Let it give you the energy you need.”
Don’t stop now. You’re almost home.
So I guess that’s an appropriate message for my drive today…
“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -– Melody Beattie
“Feel as grateful to existence as possible — for small things, not only for great things… just for sheer breathing. We don’t have any claim on existence, so whatsoever is given is a gift.
Grow more and more in gratitude and thankfulness; let it become your very style. Be grateful to everybody. If one understands gratitude then one is grateful for things that have been done positively. And one even feels grateful for things which could have been done negatively. You feel grateful that somebody helped you; this is just the beginning. Then you start feeling grateful that somebody has not harmed you — he could have; it was so kind of him not to.
Once you understand the feeling of gratitude and allow it to sink deeply within you, you will start feeling grateful for everything. And the more grateful you are, the less complaining, grumbling. Once complaining disappears, misery disappears. It exists with complaints. It is hooked with complaints and with the complaining mind. Misery is impossible with gratefulness. So that is one of the most important secrets to learn.”
Level 2 Gratitude says, “How wonderful it is to exist!” Circumstances are irrelevant because this form of gratitude is a choice that needs no justification. It is a sense of utter fascination with the very notion of existence.
You become grateful for the adventure that is life, including all of its twists and turns. This form of gratitude is synonymous with unconditional love because there is no attachment to circumstances or outcomes. Consequently, there is no fear of loss or change.
Level 2 Gratitude is like having a constant echo in the back of your consciousness saying, “Wow!” Everything else is experienced on top of that Wow. Gratitude becomes the canvas upon which your life is painted… .When your feelings of gratitude are conditional upon temporary circumstances like your stuff, your job, and your relationships, your base identity doesn’t change. But when you root your gratitude in something permanent, it becomes a permanent part of you. Instead of saying, “I am grateful for…” you just say, “I am grateful.”
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “Thank You,” that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — G. K. Chesterton
“It was the love of love,
the love that swallows up all else,
a grateful love,
a love of nature, of people,
a love engendering
gentleness and goodness
that moved me
and that I saw in you.”
– William Carlos Williams
“Gratitude is a twofold love / love coming to visit us, and love running out to greet a welcome guest.” — Henry Van Dyke
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley
“Let’s choose today to quench our thirst for the ”good life” we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives. We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie
I posted this in January this year, but am feeling the need to post it again today. For a while I kept a gratitude journal, but I use it rarely these days. Perhaps I need to start doing that again, to remind myself of how much I have to be grateful for. Last night we had a party for our friends, which we hadn’t done in some time, and I realized how disconnected from them I had become, in spite of the facebook and twitter connections. Our electronic connections are so shallow sometimes compared to the reality of our face to face communications. And it is sad how rarely we let others know how very much we appreciate them.
So much of our society is about that search for more, the higher highs, the more powerful position, the ever-increasing salary, more stuff, bigger houses, bigger cars. We let those things get in the way of simply enjoying ourselves and each other.
When are we ever just thankful for what we have? Don’t we know eventually we will lose all the things, all the stuff, our lives themselves?
Be grateful for what you have now, and more will come to you. That is the nature of the universe. Be unhappy, be disrespectful, be harsh to others, and you will have less. Maybe not less stuff, but less in your heart, in your spirit. You have to be grateful for what you have in order to keep it, and in order to really deserve more. Tao trusts only those who prove themselves to be worthy of being its caretakers.
Hold the jewel in your heart.
I’m finally back from my vacation time in Florida, and have been going through a lot the last couple of weeks and am still sorting it all out. I’ll be back to blogging regularly eventually. It’s been an interesting and challenging time for me, and I’ve been busy making major changes in several people’s lives. Hopefully for the better, but we’ll see in time. With so much changing in our world right now, it feels difficult to keep up the pace, so I’m slowing mine down for a while. Meantime, I’ll post some less intense and more fun things here.
You are The Empress
Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.
The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.
The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
We’re back, they kicked us out and made us come home again. Kauai was awesome!
We’ll always have Paris….
Happy Anniversary, Baby…
“A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.” — Andre Maurois
“A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.” –Paul Sweeney
“The holiest of all holidays are those kept by ourselves in silence and apart; the secret anniversaries of the heart.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light.” — Mark Twain
“Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”
– Mark Twain
“In marriage, as in war, it is permitted to take every advantage of the enemy.”
“A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.” — Pearl S. Buck
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person” — Mignon McLaughlin
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Do not confuse the pointing finger with the moon….
Do not shorten the days
spent with Enchantment,
by asking questions from a restless mind.
For Heaven’s sake,
abandon yourself to her authentic magic
and leave earthly logic far behind.
Her influence will guide you
toward a mystical opportunity,
offering you a chance to be reborn.
As the universe extends to you
a brand new energy,
so that you are truly transformed.
With Enchantment what should go wrong
instead often goes right,
and life’s path seems clearer to you.
Your burdens seem lighter
you are filled with faith
as your purpose comes into view.
Enchantment visits most often
with those selfless souls
who give of themselves constantly.
Because their inner bliss
acts like a beacon
Enchantment stops by frequently.
Enchantment’s company is costly,
for to keep her,
you must surrender ego’s space.
Then immersed in her awesome power
you will live your life,
under the influence of grace.
– J. Perry Alldredge
“Blessings are the things we take for granted.
Each holiday we notice what we see.
<em>Most know the Earth is utterly enchanted
Yet walk through life and love mechanically.
Valuing one’s gifts takes resolution
After days and nights of fantasy.</em>
Love brings the sweet relief of absolution,
Enveloping our hesitance in need.
No touch inspires so swift a revolution,
Transforming all the hieroglyphs we read.
In your love is the charity of spring,
Nor self-obsessed nor blinded by some creed,
Embracing the grey dawns that blessings bring.”
– Cornelius Lyons
“Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.” -– Ben Okri
“He is the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart” — Washington Irving
“Love is the only bow of life’s dark cloud. It is the Morning and Evening Star… It is the Mother of Art, inspirer of poet, patriot, and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart, builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth, It was the first dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody. Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right royal kings of common clay.” — Robert Green Ingersoll
“An enchanted life has many moments when the heart is overwhelmed with beauty and the imagination is electrified by some haunting quality in the world or by a spirit or voice speaking from deep within a thing, a place, or a person.” — Henry Louis Mencken
“All these things have you said of beauty.
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes
and a song you hear though you shut your ears…
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and your are the mirror.”
– Kahlil Gibran
“An enchanted world is one that speaks to the soul, to the mysterious depths of the heart and imagination where we find value, love, and union with the world around us.
As mystics of many religions have taught, that sense of rapturous union can give a sensation of fulfillment that makes life purposeful and vibrant.” — Thomas Moore
“Our time here is magic! It’s the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique in yourself. It’s the only space.” — Ben Okri
“Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated.” — Lou Holtz
“One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity.” — Edward de Bono
“Walking your talk is a great way to motivate yourself. No one likes to live a lie. Be honest with yourself, and you will find the motivation to do what you advise others to do.” — Vince Poscente
“The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.” — John C. Maxwell
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is on a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” — Martha Graham
“When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life” — Greg Anderson